A Leader Leads with Gratitude

From a David Brooks column in the New York Times (reprinted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel). David Brooks describes the qualities of a leader. He writes:

“It begins with a warm gratitude toward that which you have inherited and a fervent wish to steward it well. It is propelled by an ardent moral imagination, a vision of a good society that can’t be realized in one lifetime. It is informed by seasoned affections, a love of the way certain people concretely are and a desire to give all a chance to live at their highest level.”

Shinshu’s comment: These qualities of inquiry can be applied to your workplace or home. They are applicable to our spiritual lives as well. We want to take what is wise and continue in the same vein. Having “warm gratitude” will soften and guide our endeavors. I like the phrase “moral imagination” because that is how we are able to see each situation as the totality of life, not just something that fits a “should.”

In Zen, lineage is very important. We are never far from those who went before us and illuminated our path. In this way, we know that our effort, although it seems only of this lifetime, will resonate throughout space and time. What will be the quality of that resonance?

What does he mean by “seasoned affections”? Affection can refer to the affect of one’s actions, how one is disposed toward something, having tender feelings or a state of being affected. I think he means that skillful actions are the result of our own mature experience and those whose actions precede our own.

I encourage you to sit with David Brooks’ words and think about how they might apply to your situation. This is also my intention. We cannot understand and absorb wise words without also making the effort to suss out how they are relevant to our particular situation.

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